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Alpental, December 20, 2008

A few years ago, we used to do this on a regular basis - get up in the middle of the night (or on a Monday) and skin up the still dormant Alpental ski area under cover of darkness with headlamps on, grabbing first tracks before patrol even got to their second latte.

Now, it looks like maybe the first and only time this year.

We pulled into the lot around 9:00 AM, minutes behind a herd of perhaps 20 who were already stomping a skin track up Sessel. Perfect. On the way up, several pro patrollers stopped and chatted with each group of skiers, telling each of us that they were only moving material at the moment, but that control work would commence tomorrow and they would appreciate it if we would refrain from skinning within the ski area boundaries from then on. I said that I could readily see their point, and would make every attempt to stay out of their way during the season. No problem.

Lots of regulars were in attendance, with Kevin, Holly, Seth and Eric joining Scott and myself at the base of Debbie's Gold. We ran into Skip and Chris and their dates near the top, and patroller Pete at the lift shack. The skin track was a superhighway, which detoured strangely through Breakover Trees but made an efficient line to the top after that.

Skiing was better than anyone had hoped. We climbed a bit above the lift station for a photo op, then joined the masses for powder turns down International. Lots of pillows with rocks buried inside, and quite a few deep holes down to dirt on Lower International, but only a few rocks were touched and no one but Scott went into a hole. Dreamy pow on the top, pow with a slight crust lower down, and the best turns of the day on Lower "I" made us all happy to be back on snow.

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